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January 29, 2014

Traffic woes and snow

Let me get this out of the way: being stuck in your car for many, many hours sucks. I know. I've been there. On multiple occasions.

Also, schools who waited to let kids out need to seriously evaluate their policies and think critically about where those kids are going when their parents are working 25 miles away. However, we need to stop blaming schools for closing too quickly when the threat of weather happens. That's on we parents. Unless we evaluate our willingness to bitch about that (which drives school administration thinking on pulling that trigger) and own our role in all the times schools close too quickly, we are doomed to see this happen again.

And we will bitch and snark the next time schools close the day before a threatened snow and it doesn't materialize. And we will forget about kids stuck on school buses, stuck at school, or our collective outrage over 'them idiots' running our schools for waiting to pull the trigger yesterday. That's what we do.

One last rant: before we start yelling at the top of our lungs about government or the weather man, let me ask you a question: Didn't you know the weather was going to be bad before you went to work yesterday? Does your employer have a reasonable leave policy?

If your employer has a reasonable leave policy: You traded saving a half day of leave for sitting on the road for multiple hours. What happens when it snows in Atlanta isn't an unknown quantity. That isn't to say government and the weather forecasters don't have a role in this, but in essence, you decided that you knew better and didn't want to 'waste' that leave/get mocked for staying home/fall behind on something that probably doesn't really matter now.

This is a lesson I learned while practicing law in Washington, DC in the 90s. Multiple times, I went in with full knowledge that if the forecast was right, I'd end up having to make a sleep at the office or drive six hours decision that day. And I had to do so. Six hours from Silver Spring to Quince Orchard in the snow. And I never learned. Except for the times I slept at the office.

Also, I'm not surprised that my dedication to clients/the firm/my managing partner/the practice of law didn't come up at all when evaluation time came around.

If your employer doesn't have a reasonable leave policy: You need to direct some (or perhaps a large part) of your ire at your employer.

This happens in other cities. It happened in Chicago in 2011, with commuters sleeping on Lakeshore Drive and the Dan Ryan Expressway.  It happened in New York in 2013, with commuters sleeping on the Long Island Expressway. Yes, the amounts of snow are different, but even if Atlanta had all the equipment those cities had, we would have had much the same result because that equipment can't work when roads are covered with cars all leaving at nearly the same time.

If we are going to skewer local and state government for not learning past lessons, we need to be willing to admit we aren't doing so either.

We aren't big on personal responsibility in the world anymore. We look for reasons bad stuff happens to us. Sometimes it is our own decisions, and not those of the government, the weatherman, or school administrators, that we are in the situation we are in.

Or maybe it is just snarky bloggers who are to blame.

See Also:
-- How Hothlanta Happened -- EDSBS



Rudy said...

You are absolutely correct. We all have to share the responsibility.

Charles said...

Oh. Hell. Yes. On so many levels.

paulwesterdawg said...

I mostly agree. But...Lots of people punch a clock and need to be physically be "there" no matter where "there" really is. They can't call in sick, and I feel for them. But there are many, many more who could've worked from home yesterday and didn't. The forecast said the weather was going to be snowy when most of them left the house. And some of that is on them.

As you rightful said.

I didn't go in. Would I have gone in if the bride wasn't so pregnant? Maybe. Maybe I got lucky. wouldn't have JUST been the Government's fault.

That really is frigging ridiculous that the State didn't watch the weather channel. I mean come on. I watched it. I knew it was going to get shitty in the afternoon north of Clayton County or whatever they said they were expecting the night before. There's no reason for the interstates to be in that kind of shape that fast.

It's just a staggering shank.

Lots of blame. But come on. That's nonsense.

It took a lot of bad decision to get things into this rough of a shape though. But the condition of the ATL interstates is the least comprehensible to me.

gullyterrier . said...

Maybe if people didn't live so far from their work and have such long commutes, this sort of thing would not get so out of control.

TylerDawgden said...

I'm with you on the lack of planning. The Atlantic and Gizmo articles were spot on. As was Spencer's take on EDSBS.

One thing on the condition of the interstates though: Everyone I've talked to who was stuck were stuck due to trucks not going up hills, wrecks, and abandoned vehicles. Not sure what folks at state DOT could have done about that other than tell people before 7am to not leave the house.

My brother left Kennesaw at 1pm (he admits a full two hours later than he should have). He pulled into his house in Canton after 7. Not fun with a one year old strapped down in the back seat for that long. And he was lucky he got off 575 at Town Lake because he had neighbors that didn't get past Sixes Road.

His wife didn't even bother trying to go home (she's an ER nurse in Atlanta).

By my view the only thing the State could have done was tell people to stay home before everyone left for work, because once folks were headed into town, the genie was out of the bottle.

Andrew said...

A winter storm warning was issued by the National Weather Service very early that morning for the possibility of 2 inches of snow early that afternoon. and what happened? 2 inches of snow fell early in the afternoon. Weather forecasting has come a long way over the years and while still not an exact science, there are very few total " busts" anymore. Unfortunately, the perception is that this still happens very often when it really doesn't.

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